Somewhere Between Awful and Awkward: Actors Who Form Bands
  • FRIDAY, JULY 06, 2012

  • Posted by: Zoe Marquedant

The movie industry has a small attention span, so it is somewhat understanding that someone trying to make it in that either world want to try everything. Right? Wrong. Just because everyone loved The Gladiator, doesn't mean we want to hear Russel Crowe sing (no offense). He like so many others took an awkward tumble down the musical rabbit hole. And it's...it's really just uncomfortable for everyone. So why is it actors feel the need to form bands? They get their screen time, their movie deal, their 60 Minutes interview, why take this too? Why torture us with a desperate foray into music? Just because you played guitar in college, doesn't mean you can start a band. Go back to Hollywood.

Unfortunately it is usually the wildly successful actors that announce music careers. If the down-on-their-luck, should-really-consider-a-career-in-something-else actors started bands, things like Nicholas Cage might not have happened. It would be an entirely different story. But alas, the bad ones sign on for another sequel and the good ones just keep jumping between stage and screen. Take Justin Timberlake for example. He went from the Mickey Mouse Club to *NSYNC to his own solo career then on to acting again. Recently he starred in Bad Teacher, Friends with Benefits and The Social Network. I can't decide if this means he's talented on screen or if he just has a nice face. It is entirely possible that his movie career is fueled by all the teenage girls willing to pay $12 to see his face on the big screen. Or Jared Leto from Lord of War and Requiem for a Dream who formed the band 30 Seconds to Mars with his brother Shannon Leto. Stop shutting the door on Hollywood, Jared, or else it might not be open next time. Or Johnny Depp, who hasn't to my knowledge formed a band, but performed recently beside The Black Keys at the MTV Movie Awards. Depp apparently played in several garage bands before switching to acting, so he knew how to play guitar. Still Depp is best known for his roles in films like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Edward Scissorhands and the Pirates of the Caribbean series, not his musicianship. Why not give a witty speech or just stand there and look pretty? Honestly the only way that could have been worse is if he covered "Wonderwall."

And the blame can't entirely be laid on actors. Some musicians make equally awful stumbles in the opposite direction. These moments on the big screen seem purely driven by their popularity and no actual need to act. To meet this demand, CSI has cameo-ed the likes of Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift and Pete Wentz. All of these performances were terrible (you'd think standing in as a dead body wouldn't be too hard, apparently not). So why do they do it? Personally I like my horribly-acted crime dramas without musical guest stars, but maybe I'm alone in that. Part of it may be that its just another way to make money, like fragrances and clothing lines.

Sometimes one leads more gracefully to the other. Mark Walberg was first known as Marky Mark, the lead singer for hip-hop group Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch. The Fresh Prince himself, Will Smith, started as a rapper in the early 90s. The venture actually launched his acting career and he was just in the third Men in Black movie. In the early seventies, David Bowie was in The Man Who Fell to Earth, as an alien visiting earth. More recently, he also played Nikola Tesla in The Prestige (who else missed that entirely?) And what do we say for actors/writers like Donald Glover whom besides starring on Community also raps under the pseudonym Childish Gambino. How do these actors seamlessly jump between the stage and the screen? Why aren't they happy with one success? Maybe Gambino explains it best in his song "Freaks and Geeks, when he admits, "havin' an Emmy just wasn't enough."

"Gettin Jiggy With It" by Will Smith:



"Good Vibrations" by Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch:



And this truly dismal performance featuring Johnny Depp:

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